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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!
Guest blogger: Jude Misson, CHSS Health Information Manager
March 11, 2018
When I first started working from home in the late 80’s, there was a lot of “oh, working from home tomorrow?” wink, wink, from my office colleagues. Since then, attitudes to working from home have changed. The number of people who work remotely has dramatically increased, with 4.2 million workers in the UK now working from home.
For some, working from home can bring a big improvement in productivity, health and general well-being. But this is not the case for everybody. If you or one of your employees is considering working from home, here are some pros and cons to help you make a balanced decision about whether it’s right for you.
Benefits for the employee...
Working from home can save you both time and money. The average British worker spends 27 days per year travelling to and from work. With ever increasing rail fares and rising petrol prices, commuting is eating up our money as well as our time. Of course, it is up to you what you do with this extra time and money, but one option could be to take up a gym membership and improve your health and fitness.
It can also be an opportunity to improve your diet and reduce your spend on food. Cutting out your daily coffee could really help you lose that extra bit of weight. A large (470ml) full-fat coffee provides 15% of the daily calorie requirement for women and 12% for men (a cup of instant coffee with milk provides 1-2%). And instead of popping out to buy lunch, stock up on healthy lunches and snacks at home. But, make sure you take regular breaks – get up and go for a walk at lunchtime, or use the opportunity to put the hoover round.
Working from home can mean a better work/life balance. Many people spend more time with their colleagues than their families – early mornings and late evenings can put a strain on relationships. Working flexible hours and just being around more can really help to improve relationships and family life.
As with all good things, there are also some disadvantages to working from home.
Don’t underestimate the importance of social interaction with your work colleagues. The lack of face-to-face interaction can make it difficult to keep up with developments at work. You may miss the support from colleagues and the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other. If you work from home a lot you may have fewer work friends and the chances are that you will miss your lovely work colleagues.
Working from home is definitely not for the undisciplined! It can be difficult separating work and home, and harder to switch off at the end of the day. It is easy to get distracted – children, pets, that last chapter of your book, and if there are others at home they may find it hard not to disturb you. You need to have the right environment to work effectively form home. Create a designated space to work, have set hours if possible, and set boundaries if there are others at home.
...and the benefits for the employer
Employees who work from home tend to have greater productivity and it can mean reduced overheads for you. Evidence shows that the flexibility of working from home can reduce sickness absence and limit the spread of bugs.
However, there can also be problems. Some individuals can be difficult to manage and it is harder to maintain staff development and motivation from a distance. Staff can ‘stagnate’ if they lose the interaction with their colleagues.
There can be increased costs of additional equipment or training needed. Finally, although today’s technology makes it easier than ever for people to work from home, you need to consider possible security risks and how IT issues will be resolved.
So, is working from home for you?
Don’t be put off by the negatives, but before you join the 4.2 million, give some careful consideration as to whether working from home is the right choice for you.
***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.